Every year at the college where I teach, a student is chosen to win the “Public Bible Reading Award.” From the moment I knew I had the opportunity to nominate someone, there was no question of my pick….Donavan.
Donavan had that gift of drawing people in whenever he spoke. Every time he got up to give a speech…we listened. His naturally timed pauses and accentuated phrases caught the attention of everyone in the class. But I think it was the authenticity that accompanied his words that made him so dynamic. Nothing was contrived. Oblivious to this God-given talent of communication, he fully underestimated his impact. But it’s no wonder…
Donavan was born and raised in Harlem. By the age of 14, he felt completely hopeless. His life was spiraling downward and he believed he would never escape his circumstances. Then, on his 15th birthday, his mother begged him to go to church with her. That night his life turned upside down. He discovered the love and power of Jesus Christ. A few years later he would be plucked from the streets of Harlem and planted at Lancaster Bible College where those gifts he never knew he had would be nourished.
To me, Donavan joins the ranks of “New York’s finest.” It takes a lot of guts to reject the ways of street-life. To walk away from a culture that heralds drugs and violence as the road to survival and instead choose a path of humility requires more than self-determination. It necessitates a life surrendered to the One who brought rescue and redemption.
The morning of the awards ceremony, Donavan read Colossians 3:1-17. His credibility of having a “life hidden with Christ” was etched in every word. As he echoed the passionate admonition of the Apostle Paul to get rid of everything that leads to death and put on the “new self” we knew it was not a platitude. It emanated life.
So will your words. So will mine. Surrendered grateful lives that are set on things above always do. Don’t hold back. Become “Lancaster’s finest” or “Tallahassee’s finest” or “Portsmouth’s finest” or “Boston’s”…wherever you are…and in “whatever you do… do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (verse 17).
Someone will listen!